Thursday afternoon at the opening panel for the tenth annual Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, attendees were treated to the second teaser trailer forSTAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENSand “exciting” is EXACTLY the word for it. More X-Wings, more TIE Fighters, and most importantly, Han Solo has got a cool new jacket.
Opening with a wonderful long, panning shot of a desert planet revealing a crashed Imperial Star Destroyer, the trailer confirms that the STAR WARS universe is still used and abused — perhaps even more so than when we last saw it in RETURN OF THE JEDI.
The new trailer hinges on a voiceover from Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, calling back to the speech he gave Leia in RETURN OF THE JEDI:
“The Force is strong in my family; my father has it, I have it, my sister has it. You have that power too.”
Then the familiar strain of Luke’s theme swells, as images of the new villains and heroes fill the screen. There is lots to love here; Oscar Isaac looks thrilled to be piloting an X-Wing, Rylo Ken and his stormtroopers pay homage to the great Ralph McQuarrie in their design and R2 makes a brief appearance next to a cloaked individual with a robotic hand.
There seems to be even more of a Nazi influence on the new Empire, in what looks to be a rally on Hoth; this ties in nicely with the image from the first teaser with the sequence that appears to call back storming the beaches at Normandy for the history buffs. The looks of the new films appear to split the difference between the slickness of the prequels’ computer-generated special effects, the kinetic camerawork of the modern blockbuster, and the practical, dirty universe of the trilogy that so many of us hold near and dear to our hearts.
If I were to theorize on the plot of the film and its characters as I did in my piece on the trading cards back in December, I would suggest that Rylo Ken is attempting to rebuild a new Empire under the spectre of Darth Vader. Keep in mind: in the vast STAR WARS galaxy, the dysfunction of the Skywalker family may not be front page news. Rylo appears to be utilizing imagery and propaganda to build a new Galactic Empire in a world that is possibly still in pieces from the last rebellion. “The king is dead; long live the king.”
The trailer also gives us a first look at Captain Phasma, a Stormtrooper donnig a cape who may be portrayed as “the gestapo” that Vader was originally intended to be in original drafts of THE STAR WARS, before he became Luke’s father. He also appears to be influenced by McQuarrie’s original Boba Fett design as a rogue Stormtrooper. Seeing Phasma in front of those classic Imperial-style lighting panels is sure to give give Abrams some credence with the Star Wars faithful.
There have been rumors of Han and Leia having children who are strong in the ways of the force, but the voiceover implies that we may meet a new son or daughter of Skywalker. (Poe? Rey? Finn? Max Von Sydow?!?)
One thing that both trailers do seem to be missing is a sense of humor. One of the things missing from the prequel trilogy was the sense of fun and quick dialogue between the characters. Even some STAR WARS obsessives are unaware that Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz came in and did an uncredited comedy polish on the original 1977 release. In some ways, that sense of humor is the heart of the original trilogy, and I hope J.J. Abrams brings it back. He does appear to be on the right track.
And after all the slam bang action of the preview, including the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy escaping a TIE on what may be Tatooine, the trailer delivers its most memorable moment; Han and Chewie onboard the Falcon. “Chewie, we’re home.” Han exclaims, and I’m sure that elicited cheers at the Celebration, but as it should be, Chewbacca, gets the last word.